Finding patterns in data

File and Data Management

File and data management are issues that need to be considered in any computing environment and the efficient use of PATN is no exception. What do I mean by data management? Basically, data management is having a strategy about how your data is stored, managed, displayed, recovered and re-used. Always assume that you or someone else will want to go back to your data and/or analysis at some point in the future. If you want to save a lot of angst, an understanding of a few basics will help a lot.

The outputs from PATN depend on what is output. There are three basic types of output from PATN-

  • PATN project Files (xxx.ptn)
  • CSV export files (xxx.csv)
  • Images (either xxx.emf) or xxx.bmp) or video (xxx.avi).

Project Files

All analysis results are stored in PATN's Project file (a database with the extension 'PTN'). This database will however only store the latest analysis results so it pays to save Project files when any changes are made to the Data or analyses. A key strategy that should be used is to fill in Tools | Option | Project Comment box with as much detail as possible to reflect the exact description/status of the file. That way, any recovery/re-analysis is hopefully self explanatory.

Comma-Separated Variables Files

PATN can export all numerical results in comma separated variables format (CSV). These files can be read by Excel and most other statistical or analytical programs. As these data are from the Project file, there is usually little reason to export to archive. The only exception here is the Data Table itself - (File | Export | Data Table). This is a very SAFE format for long-term archival.

It may be a good idea to dump out the Data Table and all analyses results and then zip them into a single file. CSV files can usually be highly compressed so the resultant zip file containing all the APTN files is usually small in size.

Images and Video Files

PATN exports all graphical material either as EMF format (enhanced meta file - vector-based) or BMP format (image based). As these are images, they can be edited by any image editor (e.g. Photoshop, ACDSee etc.)

In summary, the best strategy for data management is to ensure that well-documented multiple copies of the PATN Project files are maintained along with an occasional CSV dump of the Data Table and optionally the analyses exports - all zipped into a single file.